European cities announce new lockdowns, restrictions as COVID-19 cases soar

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European countries from Denmark to Greece have announced new restrictions as 850,000 Spaniards returned to lockdown.

The restrictions are part of moves to curb surging coronavirus infections in some of Europe’s largest cities.

Britain was also reported to be considering a new national lockdown, as cases in the United Kingdom almost doubled to 6,000 per day in the latest reporting week.

New COVID-19 restrictions were already imposed on the North West, Midlands and West Yorkshire from Tuesday.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said it was inevitable that the country would see a second wave of the coronavirus, and while he did not want another national lockdown, the Government may need to introduce new restrictions.

The sharp rise in the number of cases meant the Government had to keep everything under review.

“I don’t want to get into a second national lockdown at all,” he said.

“[But] when you look at what is happening, you’ve got to wonder whether we need to go further.”

Infections have climbed steadily across most of Europe over the past two months. Intensive care admissions and deaths have also begun to tick up, especially in Spain and France.

A nun wearing a face mask to prevent the spread of coronavirus climbs stairs of a subway.
Spain has seen more cases than any other European country.(AP: Manu Fernandez)

The regional Government of the Spanish capital Madrid ordered a lockdown from Monday in some of the poorer areas of the city and its outskirts after a surge in coronavirus infections there.

Spain has seen more cases than any other European country.

Residents in Madrid’s poorer districts had said earlier they felt abandoned, stigmatised and feared new restrictions would deprive them of income.

Regional leader Isabel Diaz Ayuso said on Friday that access to parks and public areas would be restricted, and gatherings will be limited to six, but people would not be stopped from going to work.

New restrictions across EU

Students sit at a distance in rows of desks. Signs on every second seat block them from use.
Infections have climbed steadily across most of Europe over the past two months.(AP: Cecilia Fabiano/LaPresse)

Authorities in the southern French city of Nice banned gatherings of more than 10 people in public spaces and restricted bar opening hours, following fresh curbs introduced earlier this week in Marseille and Bordeaux.

France on Friday registered more than 13,200 new infections, its highest daily count since the start of the pandemic.

In Denmark, where Friday’s 454 new infections was close to April’s record of 473, Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen said the limit on public gatherings would be lowered to 50 people from 100 and ordered bars and restaurants to close early.

Iceland ordered entertainment venues and pubs in the capital area to close for four days between September 18-21, while in Ireland indoor restaurant dining and indoor events were banned in Dublin after a surge in cases in recent days.

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte said his Government was preparing “regional” measures to combat the coronavirus outbreak after the Netherlands registered a record 1,972 cases in the past 24 hours.

The measures will be detailed later on Friday and are expected to include tighter restrictions on public gatherings and earlier closing times for bars and restaurants.

In Greece, which emerged largely unscathed from the first wave of COVID-19 that hit Europe in March and April, Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said the Government was ready to tighten restrictions in the greater Athens area as cases accelerated.

Mr Mitsotakis said Greece’s committee of health experts had recommended extra curbs on public gatherings, the suspension of cultural events for 14 days and other measures which “could be decided today … and go into force on Monday.”

Europe is still hoping not to follow the example of Israel, which entered a second nationwide lockdown on Friday at the onset of the Jewish high-holiday season, following a jump in new coronavirus cases.

ABC/wires

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